Self-Starter Stories: From Associate Professor to becoming a Linocut Print Maker
This week's #selfstarterstory features Pragya Agarwal, artist and founder of Hedge and Hog Prints. A creative art and linocut print making startup based in Formby.
PickYourselfUK caught up with with Pragya to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: A passion for art and creativity.
Tell us about you and your business: I’m Pragya, an architect, designer, linocut printmaker, and now the creative force behind Hedge and Hog Prints. After working in academia for several years, I was inspired to create something caring, as well as socially and environmentally aware. As a Mum to three girls, I am passionate about creating beauty in our lives through my designs, while also creating products that inspire them and others to think, dream and smile.
I grew up in India, and travelled widely, and my experiences and travels have influenced my art and designs. I now live near the sea with my Scottish husband, my three girls, my dog and my cat, and work from my home studio. Often my designs have Scottish motifs and landscapes, my pets feature widely in my linocut prints, and I love creating art prints for children’s rooms. My designs also reflect my love for the British sense of humour, the quirky and whimsical in language, celebrating local slang, literature and places around us. Both classical and modern art and architecture is a huge source of inspiration.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: I have found branding challenging to ensure that I have a consistent look and voice, as well as reach out to the right customers.
What did you want to be when you were a child?: Successful
What was your last job?: Associate Professor at a UK University.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: I am a small creative business and this is such a fantastic opportunity to be featured and have more exposure for my work. The past year has been extremely challenging with twin babies born premature and been extremely ill with numerous stays in the hospital. I have worked extremely hard to get my business off the ground and get it up and running, and keep producing new products. But it has been a really hard time, and I've felt overwhelmed and stressed. Coming across this, I decided that I needed to pick myself up!
What did you learn from your worst boss?: Respect other women and support them. Women do not have to be bullies to be successful and be seen as dynamic in the workplace. It is crucial to support and enable your staff.
What is your favourite business book and why?: How to style your brand, Fiona Humberstone.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I design everything in house and also print my linocuts by hand. I outsource the stationery and digital printing to local printers.
What is your productivity secret?: Snatching even 5 mins of time to do something on my admin list when that is all I can get with twin babies. And lots of lists!
What is your favourite app?: Hootsuite
How do you market your business?: I use all the social media platforms, and also occasionally use Facebook adverts. Instagram is great for connecting with people of similar interests and to reaching out to new customer base. I have done some craft and art fairs last year, and will be doing my first trade show PGLive this year. I also have a newsletter that I send out every fortnight.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: I first launched my linocut art prints through Artfinder, and had my first paying customer from Australia the same week. It was amazing!
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Through social media connections, and advertising on FB and Google Adwords.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: It will be hard and there will be times when it all seems like a huge uphill battle. But believe in yourself and your ideas, because it will be so worth it to see your concepts and creations coming to life, and to connect with the burgeoning community of self-employed professionals around you. Make sure you have researched copyright and trademark, and think about protecting your designs by joining organisations such as ACID.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Jo Malone. Beautiful products and gorgeous understated branding is a masterclass in brand styling. I would love to chat to her about the way she grew her business and the lessons that she learnt along the way.
To keep up to date with Pragya's entrepreneurial journey, follow her social media channels here:
Pragya Agarwal has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.
Voting for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017 will take place in November 2017 so make sure you get your entry submitted to qualify.